Opening up Berlin’s cultural institutions

Berliner Philharmoniker sign open letter

(Photo: Heribert Schindler)

In an open letter, the general music directors, chief conductors and artistic directors of Berlin’s concert halls, opera houses, orchestras and theatres have spoken out. Their demand: the opening of these cultural institutions at the earliest possible date and a “re-emergence of Berlin as a metropolis of art and music”. Chief conductor Kirill Petrenko and general manager Andrea Zietzschmann have signed the letter on behalf of the Berliner Philharmoniker.

Dear Federal Chancellor Dr. Merkel
Dear Governing Mayor Müller
Dear Senator Pop
Dear Senator Dr. Lederer

In advance of your next meeting on 3 March, we are writing to make the following appeal to you:

In the context of the opening scenarios, give culture the space that the studies on the incidence of infection legitimise for spectators in theatres and concert halls and that the fundamental right to artistic freedom makes urgently necessary. We demand that the institutions we manage be opened at the earliest possible date, and in any case in unison with the retail sector.

Enable our public, the pupils and citizens of Berlin to visit our cultural and educational venues in a risk-minimised manner as they are regulated and controlled by safe hygiene concepts. Consistent studies by the TU Berlin, the Fraunhofer Institute and the German Environment Agency have confirmed that the hygiene concepts of cultural institutions guarantee the lowest risks of infection in public spaces.

Our cultural institutions had to close in November and December last year during a “lockdown light” without any noticeable effect on the incidence of infection. At the end of March, we will have five months without an audience behind us. The Guidelines for the Return of Culture and Sport, published this Monday, presented a well-founded concept developed by 20 experts.

Taking into account the current infection situation, in continuous exchange with experts and with constant further development and adaptation of hygiene measures, we as general music directors and artistic directors are fighting

  •  for the continuation of the social reception of art,
  •  for the continuation of artistic debate in society and
  •  for the re-emergence of Berlin as a metropolis of art and music.

Yours hopefully

General music directors/chief conductors:
Daniel Barenboim, Staatskapelle Berlin
Christoph Eschenbach, Konzerthausorchester Berlin
Vladimir Jurowski, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin
Kirill Petrenko, Berliner Philharmoniker
Ainars Rubikis, Orchestra of the Komische Oper Berlin
Sir Donald Runnicles, Orchestra of Deutsche Oper Berlin
Robin Ticciati, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin

Artistic directors:
Klaus Dörr, Volksbühne Berlin
Ulrich Khuon, Deutsches Theater Berlin
Barrie Kosky, Komische Oper Berlin
Shermin Langhoff, Maxim Gorki Theater
Sebastian Nordmann, Konzerthaus Berlin
Oliver Reese, Berliner Ensemble
Anselm Rose, Rundfunk Orchester und Chöre Berlin
Matthias Schulz, Staatsoper Unter den Linden
Dietmar Schwarz, Deutsche Oper Berlin
Christiane Theobald, Staatsballett Berlin
Georg Vierthaler, General Manager Stiftung Oper in Berlin
Guntbert Warns, Renaissance-Theater Berlin
Martin Woelffer, Komödie am Kurfürstendamm im Schiller Theater
Andrea Zietzschmann, Berliner Philharmoniker/Philharmonie Berlin